When times are hard and budgets tighten, the first thing most businesses think to do is pursue new clientele. But don’t be surprised if marketing agencies remind you to redirect some resources toward client retention, rather than client acquisition. Putting aside part of your budget to nurture existing client affiliations is a trustworthy investment in today’s economic climate. Here, we have identified five key elements of relationship marketing:

1. A Little Goes A Long Way.
The clients and customers who have a home in your digital rolodex are those who already know and like your business. When you take the time to reach out to your mailing list, a little goes a long way. You don’t need to woo them or explain your services. Marketing to existing clients can be just a friendly way to maintain a connection, get back in touch and keep contacts up-to-date about your company’s latest developments.

2. Extend Brand Familiarity.

Brand awareness goes beyond a brief introduction to your company. In fact, though awareness develops the moment a prospective client learns about your brand, it must then be grown by repeat encounters with your business’s name, logo and services. Over time, a mere recognition of your brand will deepen into familiarity and trust. Not only will clients return time and again, but they may even spread positive feedback to others.

3. Get to Know Your Clients.
By cultivating long-term relationships with existing clients, they’ll come to trust your company—but you’ll also be able to get to know them. A long-term relationship means that you can study customer likes and dislikes by welcoming feedback and collecting data about how they interact with your brand. As you learn your client base, you can tailor future marketing endeavors toward them for even greater response. You can also target new audiences who share the same needs and preferences.

4. Take Advantage of Social Networking.
By using the social networking platforms that are already in place—such as Twitter and Facebook—you can easily stay in touch with clients and customers. As soon as you build a relationship, you can open a line of communication and create a reciprocal pathway for feedback and the exchange of ideas. You can also share updates about services, specialties and successes within your industry. Clients will never feel like you’re out of reach, and you’ll be easy to access when they’re ready to buy. Letting people feel connected to your company is an easy way to create dependable, long-lasting relationships.

5. Show Your Appreciation.
Always remember to show gratitude for ongoing patronage. November is an excellent time of year to show your appreciation, before your gesture gets lost in the chaos and solicitations of the holidays. Just saying ‘thank you’ with a small gift or postcard can show that you value your client’s consideration, serve as a reminder of your existing relationship and greatly increase your chance of working together again in the new year.